Every Goal Must Have A Plan

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Good morning!

As you may have seen in my 11 in 2011 resolution list, one of my goals for 2011 is to write a vegan cookbook proposal and sell the idea to a publisher. During Project Food Blog, I was contacted by a few literary agents and I am currently in the process of figuring out my next steps.

I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the idea of ‘where to start’ with my cookbook proposal and these feelings have taken me back to my thesis days. My undergraduate thesis and my Master’s thesis were both huge undertakings and I remember how I used to feel so overwhelmed whenever I had to take the first step and get started.

For me, starting a big project has always been the most difficult part.

Once I have started and I have a plan, then it seems to get a bit easier. That is just how I work.

My fear of beginning large projects has something to do with the high expectations I place on myself. I tend to put off big projects for fear of not doing a good job; if I can put it off, maybe the right idea will just ‘hit me’ and then I can move forward. But, that is rarely the case. It takes work, and lots of it, to get big projects off to a good start. Sometimes, I wait and wait for the ‘perfect’ idea, when I already have very good ideas to work with. Every project needs a solid foundation and while they shouldn’t be rushed, procrastination doesn’t do any good. I am really guilty of procrastination with large endeavors.

I mentioned ‘once I have a plan’ things seems to flow more smoothly. Having specific and attainable goals are always present in my life, but every good goal must have a plan to go along with it too! The reason why I have felt overwhelmed with my cookbook proposal is that I did not have a plan to guide me.

Every specific goal must have a specific plan to go along with it.

I would like to share my experiences with this process as much as I can. I also want my book to be largely based on your feedback. What types of recipes do you want to see in a vegan cookbook? What ingredients do you like to cook and bake with? What questions do you have about vegan cooking and baking? All of these things are things that I think about and I hope to address many of these things as I go through the process. (Don’t worry about answering the questions now as I will be creating a survey at some point). I want the book to be not only a reflection of my fun approach to a vegan diet, but also a reflection of what types of things you would want to see in a vegan cookbook.

I thought I would show you how I was finally able to get this project off the ground and running.

I have been brainstorming cookbook ideas for over a year now, but my brainstorming never translated into much more than that. I finally realized that I needed to take the next step and create an outline, so I started a Word document and I created a chapter outline of how my cookbook may look. What sections do I want? What would I call them? What types of recipes do I want to focus on? How many recipes per section? How would the order of the sections flow?

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While I always do my brainstorming on paper, I prefer not to use pen and paper when doing a large outline. I find an electronic Word document is much cleaner because I can easily delete things and have a clean looking document at all times.

I have half a notebook filled with brainstorming ideas from Project Food Blog!

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and weird diagrams apparently! haha

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Don’t ask. I really don’t know what’s going on in these diagrams. I think I wanted to make a raw layered pumpkin pie at one point. Then I realized the challenge was to make a BAKED good. Doh!

I worked on my outline this weekend and I am already feeling so much better about things. Once I planned out the chapters in my book, I started to place recipes or recipe ideas underneath each chapter that I may want to include. Over time, this is how my cookbook proposal will grow. Of course, what I plan now will likely change many times over, but at least there is a plan there to guide me and that is all that matters in the initial stages!

Do you have any big projects looming in 2011? Do you suffer from procrastination or fear of failure when big projects loom? Have you ever been intimidated by a large project? How did you begin?

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{ 202 comments… read them below or add one }

amanda January 11, 2011

I thought, from the very first time I read your blog, that it would be great if you did a cookbook. I like that your approach to vegan cooking is so friendly – you don’t tofu in every recipe (I’m not a huge fan) and you use clean, whole ingredients that one can actually find in stores. I’m so excited to see what you do with this – and no doubt I’ll be one of the first in line to buy this cookbook!

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Meredith January 11, 2011

I definitely hear you re: intimidation! I’m exactly the same way, waiting for “perfect.” I’m writing my MA thesis right now and it has stretched and challenged me in so many ways.

Have you read “Mindsets” by Carol Dweck? It has great advice on how to approach challenges in a really positive way. I’ve found it hugely helpful.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 11, 2011

No I haven’t but I will be sure to check it out! :) Thanks

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Kaleigh January 11, 2011

I agree with Amanda – having lots of vegan cookbooks in my collection, most of them require ingredients that are not readily on hand. Plus I don’t like how they tend to rely on mock meats, tofu, seitan or tempeh as the main source of protein.

What you do is give us whole food recipes that are not only easy to make, but are actually nutritious. People think that once you go vegan, you must be super duper healthy – but I have the veggie pot pie from last night’s dinner to prove that this isn’t always the case.

A unique approach would be to incorporate your strategies and history with disordered eating. Not a “diet” book – but an actual book that tells us it’s ok to eat foods such as almond butter and avocados because of what they do for us. Really, you make food fun again!

(and just a comment about black-eyed peas – I’m the same way with black beans. I basically make one dish a year with them, and then they go back into the pantry! Oh and that dish is your enchiladas – which I really do like!)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 11, 2011

I’m thinking along these lines too. Thanks for your feedback!

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Maureen PLuthero January 11, 2011

I agree with Kaleigh too many books rely on the processed protein. I would like a book that actually has the recipe for the entire dish there is nothing more annoying than to have a recipe where most is made from pre packaged products. So healthy, whole foods made totally from scratch is what I would like to see. Also in the recipt list in the back I prefer when they list the types of food like “soups” then list the recipes rather than just an alphbetical list of recipes because you do not always know the name of what you are looking for.

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Bliss January 11, 2011

I’d like to ditto Kaleigh’s comment about relying on ingredients not readily on hand. I”m not vegan, but I still enjoy vegan recipes – so long as they don’t have really expensive/hard to find items that I’ll only use for one or two recipes (although this isn’t limited to vegan recipes, I feel this way about all recipes).

I’d also like to see meals like the Protein Power Goddess Bowl (that may well have changed my life) or Back on Track Wheat Berry and Bean Salad – I really love simple, wholesome meals that are flexible in their ingredients and can be made with lots of readily available produce. The fact that you make them look so beautiful just makes them all the more appealing.

Another idea I’d be REALLY interested in is a cookbook sort of document your vegan journey – like early recipes you relied on, vegan re-creations, general tips/discussions about the learning process of vegan cooking – even if the tips are just little notes placed throughout.

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Nicole @ yuppie yogini January 11, 2011

Any recipe you include will be amazing, but I think my favorite OSG recipes are the ones with few ingredients. Especially baking recipes. Vegan baking is fairly challenging in my opinion, but I love the recipes you have that simplify the process and make it fool-proof. One favorite is the everyday spelt pancakes. I’ve used this so many times.

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Stacy @ Every Little Thing January 11, 2011

I like to think of my blog as a big project that just keeps on going :) Also, volunteering with GOTR will be huge but it will be consistent and scheduled, which will help. Good for you! I would love to write a book, so that’s always something I’m working on in my head :)

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Madeleine@ Stepping to the Brightside January 11, 2011

I’m A LOT like you when it comes to big projects. It’s as if I’m not only afraid of failure, but of success. By putting things off, we delay the inevitable life changes that come with the completion of such a huge endeavor. Attempting to get steady acting work in Hollywood is one of those ongoing “projects” that unfortunately lacks a clear cut plan. It’s a matter of persevering- sticking with it despite the constant negativity staring you face. I myself am going to try yoga/meditation to help release some of the pressure I put on myself… Me being so type A in such a chaotic world! I have no doubt your cookbook will be a smash success. Looking forward to the survey :)

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Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit January 11, 2011

I’m totally with you on this! I struggle just the same.

What I’ve found really helps me is brainstorming and removing the grooming fact that I have to DO something with the information. For example:

I go to a comfy part of my house (or office, depending on where I am) and sit in quiet for a bit. Breath in and out and relax. Let go of your fears and expectations. I know you said meditation was part of your resolution too, so treat this like a meditation in a way.

When you’re ready, open your eyes, open your pad of paper and write down your goal. What do you want to accomplish by doing this? Okay… now that you have that. Just start writing. Anything. Don’t let anything get in the way. I like to call this a “brain dump”. Get it ALL out. Don’t get caught up with rules, can/cannot, just write.

If you get caught up with your fears again, go back to closing your eyes, get situated in calm, and start again.

After you’ve done this for awhile (40 minutes is usually my breaking point) you should have a couple of pages of pure GOLD. What I like to do is go through it, sort through ideas and organize them on the following piece of paper.

You’ll be amazed with what you’ve come up with when you just LET GO and use the talent that you obviously have…just let go, be creative, and let YOU flow through.

That’d be my advice, hope it works for you as it does for me :) Good luck Angela!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 11, 2011

Wow this is so helpful! I love the idea of meditating before beginning…what an amazing idea!
Ive heard of the ‘brain dump’ approach before and I love it. No expectations, just thoughts on paper.

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Anna January 11, 2011

I love this idea – I really need to try it. I put so much pressure on myeslf to come up with something amazing and daren’t put anything to paper before that, that I end up not doing half the things I want to.

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) January 11, 2011

Angela I think your goal is awesome (wrote about it back then…that everyone better look out b/c your cookbook will rock!) and it’s natural for me to feel apprehension and anxiety before diving into something big like this. Sometimes it takes me a day, a week, a month to really commit myself to diving in…but once I do, I have a onetrack mind and cannot STOP working on that goal until…I do, and it’s done.

I am all or nothing many ways on my goals. And once I decide to do something, consider it done. I guess that would be stubborn, fixated…or else just dedicated and determined :) All depends how you wanna look at it.

I know once you get started you are just gonna rock this goal!!!

Thank you for asking ppl (in advance) what we want to see in a cookbook. That is SO SMART.. Rather than just writing to write, writing for an audience in mind. Thank you :)

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thefruitpursuit (Sabine) January 11, 2011

SO psyched for you Angela! You deserve it so much. And I ike seeing some other posts than recipes again, not that I don’t love those of course (I make one of your recipes about every day haha, no kidding).

I am the same though, starting something big is scary and daunting, but once I am started there’s no stopping me.

go girl!

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thefruitpursuit (Sabine) January 11, 2011

Oh and I had a question since I am about to purchase a Garmin: do you also run with the heart rate strap? And was it hard to calibrate it? thanks :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 11, 2011

Thanks for your comments! Im trying to mix up my posts a bit more b/c I kinda got into a rut (sure it had something to do with what was going on in my life, but hey it happens).

About the Garmin: I have the 305 and I do not use the heart rate monitor anymore. I did at one point, but then I just kinda forgot about it and fell out of the habit. I do think the HR info is useful when training so I shoud bring it back…
I dont remember having to calibrate it. I think I just put it on and made sure that the HR function was turned ON in the watch settings.

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thefruitpursuit (Sabine) January 12, 2011

hm that’s interesting, does it then track your speed by GPS or what? because it needs to be able to track speed somehow haha! I have a dingy one that needs calibration and I couldnt get it to work 2 years ago, which is why I am apprehansive of such devices.

thanks for replying and yes I totally get where you’re coming from. I just wasn’t sure if that was maybe a concious decision, in which case I would’ve been bummed ;). GREAT news on your grandfather, I wish him all the best :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 12, 2011

I may be mistaken, but I believe that it tracks speed via satellite.

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Sarah January 11, 2011

I’m so glad to hear you’re starting the cookbook b/c I think we’ll all buy one!! As long as you include the same things from this awesome blog in your book, I’ll be super happy! I’ve shared your site w/ so many other people who all get addicted to it. I think what sets you apart from many others is the “real” approach to vegan food. It’s easy and delicious and satisfies most cravings that all of us share. I’m rootin’ for you!!

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JenATX January 11, 2011

I need to find a job for the summer & I keep putting it off because its such a big undertaking and I have no idea what i want to do. Its a very stressful feeling :-/

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Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) January 11, 2011

Your goal is amazing Angela, and I literally have no doubt you’ll acheive it, and that your book will be a huge success! :D

I currently have a huge looming running project, in which I have to dramatically increase my speed in just a few months to qualify for something. It’s definitely daunting, and I think about how I mught fail every day, but I’m trying to stay positive and focused on my goal! :)

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Kristy @ KristyRuns January 11, 2011

I LOVE to see your notes and diagrams!

I am starting a business in 2011. It’s amazing how much work is involved, but it’s so much better than working for ‘da man. The “plan” is a big deal, but I’m finding that taking care of the details is the most complicated part so far. Still so excited! :)

And so excited for YOU!

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Nichole (Flirting with Food Fitness & Fashion) January 11, 2011

I can’t wait. I think your cookbook would be great just as your blog is. The fun, simple approach and the ingredients that I already have is what I enjoy most.

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Leanne (For Health's Sake) January 11, 2011

I’m planning my fiance & my wedding in August. Although it’s fun and exciting, it’s also nerve-wracking. There’s 6 1/2 months to go and I feel like I’m in the weird period where it’s still far enough away but it’s also going to come so fast. I almost am waiting for it to be closer and then ill be in a time crunch and have to do things quickly.

In the past, with big projects that felt overwhelming.. I would leave things to the last minute so that if I failed at something, I could use the excuse “oh well, if I wouldve had more time.. i couldve done better.” <— after really looking at my habits, I found this out about myself.

I am determined to start getting things done and not letting myself be overwhelmed. One task at a time.. :)

I'm so excited for your cookbook… you're photography, the way you write out recipes, your humor… would be perfect for a book. I've tried a couple of your recipes and although some look challenging, you make it easy (by step by step pictures) for people like me to follow recipes and make amazing dishes that are healthy too, at home!

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Alina @ Duty Free Foodie January 11, 2011

Congratulations on your first steps with this cookbook! I always like to start my outlines on paper even though the paper inevitably turns into a mess, and then transfer to a computer. I am shifting slowly away from paper, but somehow it still makes a difference to me in the planning stages. This is so exciting!

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Nicky January 11, 2011

I love your blog and have made a ton of your recipes and am really excited about a cookbook! One of my favorite things about your recipes is the tips you give about the actual cooking process. I’m still a fairly new vegan and I’m experimenting with a lot of new ingredients and many cookbooks/recipes don’t give enough detail about how to work with them. You’re really good about giving tips about things like consistency and texture, cooking times, making substitutions, and not having things stick to the pan! This is great because not only do I end up with good food but I learn a lot more about cooking!

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Morgan @ Life After Bagels January 11, 2011

YES I suffer from procrastination when it comes to big ideas. I’m starting my own consulting business this year, but I don’t know what service I’m going to focus on or how to offer them, which is the same thing I’ve been saying for a year. Now I have no job and it’s becoming a little bit more important so I’ve started developing a plan

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Amy January 11, 2011

You should devote an entire chapter to LENTILS. Just sayin’! ;)

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Trish @I_am_Succeeding January 11, 2011

Good for you!! I look forward to seEing you succeed in this and to read and try your recipes from your cookbook out!

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Sarah's Cooking January 11, 2011

Angela-I just started reading your website about a month ago and I LOVE it! Your food easy to make with ingredients that are easy to find in my grocery store. I made Pumpkin Chia Spelt Scuffins and they were amazing! I really like how your recipes use whole, real ingredients, like a flax egg instead of egg replacer powder.

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jen @ taste life January 11, 2011

I tend to do one of two things: Jump in with both feet without enough information, only to find out I can’t do what I wanted to do and get discouraged, or think things through and set a plan but have a bit of trouble getting started because of feeling overwhelmed/fear of failure. Write out action steps and a clear goal is a huge help to me, and then just making myself DO IT. I usually say, “I’ll work on xyz for 20 minutes and then can stop if I want to”. By the time the 20 minutes is up, I’m usually deeply immersed in the le projet.

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D January 11, 2011

I would love for you to include tips about vegan substitute ingredients- what temperatures are they best baked/cooked at? what are the measurement differences? basically a general reference table or chart at the back maybe?! Just my two cents.
I am currently writing a master’s thesis myself- I know all about procrastination, fear of failure and feeling completely overwhelmed by a daunting task!! It’s funny how you can sometimes feel alone in that but it is such a common experience in writers and researchers.
I agree an outline is key! Feedback and input from other colleagues (or in this case, your blog readers) also really does give a sense of whether or not what you are working on makes sense and speaks to people.
Good luck Angela !

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Stephanie January 11, 2011

I love the recipes that I can “un-veganize” as it were. I’m not nearly vegetarian, and my husband is decidedly carniverous, so I love the recipes where I don’t NEED to search for vegan ingredients or go out and buy a ton of stuff (i.e. the pumpkin cinnamon rolls, the high protein mashed potatoes that have become a staple in my house). I eat way less meat than I used to, so spins on “typical” recipes and opportunities to sneak in veggies/legumes/beans work so well too.

Good luck! I’ll definitely be pre-ordering!

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Shanna, like Banana January 11, 2011

Congrats on this amazing prospect. Even if you simply printed out your blog recipes straight from the page, you’d have a winning book =)

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Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty January 11, 2011

I think I would buy your cookbook for everyone I knew! haha You are totally the source of 90% of my foodie inspiration!!

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 11, 2011

Congratulations on starting this process Angela! One thing I would like to see in a vegan cookbook is more gluten free options. I am a gluten free vegan, and many vegan cookbooks aren’t helpful in the gluten free department!!

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Traci(faithfulfoodiefashionista) January 11, 2011

How exciting for you! I have always you would write an excelllent cookbook. I have enjoyed keeping up with your blog and trying your recipes. They are always so easy to follow and you give great direction. I can totally understand the intimidation. I unfortunately allow fear to keep from taking too many risks but I’m trying to overcome that. Good luck and look forward to reading your progress :)

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Mel January 11, 2011

Not sure if you’ve already thought of this, but what I’d like to see right at the beginning of the book is a list and explanation of the main substitute ingredients you will need to have in the store cupboard (e.g. the flax egg) and where you can buy these ingredients.

Perhaps target the book at people who would like to try going vegan for the first time, or just try the occasional vegan meal, and (this is what I think you do really well on this site) make it seem like it will be easy and fun.

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Lindsay January 11, 2011

I think that anything you do will be fabulous! But I think that the main things that attracted me to your blog in the first place are that you are an inspiration and yet you are totally real. You prove to people that a healthy lifestyle can be fun and empowering vs. difficult and limiting. I love pretty much all your recipes and make them several times a week…ok let’s be honest, probably more like every day :)
For me commiting to something big is very tough, for the same reasons you have a hard time with it. I also like to write and sometimes just putting my thoughts on paper of my feelings about the commitment and why I am fearful helps me to get to the root of the issue and inspires me with a new perspective.
Can’t wait to hear about your progress!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 11, 2011

Thanks Lindsay! I think that is a great tip about listing feelings and why you are fearful.

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Leanne January 11, 2011

I think a cookbook is a great idea and yours would be very appealing (based on the pictures you put in your blog). I’ve wanted to try vegan cooking for a while. I really love seeing your recipes but am very intimidated by them as I’ve never really cooked with a lot of the ingredients before. A cookbook with items that are accessible at most grocery stores would be great. Also, nutritional information and pictures would be very helpful.
Thanks!

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Cynthia January 11, 2011

Good luck with your plan! I would be so excited to see a cookbook by you. I agree with Leanne that nutritional info. would be very helpful. Maybe also a few tips on cooking with vegan ingredients? I also get intimidated by some of the ingredients since I haven’t used them before. It would be great to get some tips on cooking (or baking) vegan.

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat January 11, 2011

I agree that plans are key! I like that you’ve got a strategy for this project and I can’t wait to see it come to fruition. My ‘big’ projects this year involve budgeting (properly), and completing some more fitness/nutrition certifications. I have plans to attack each one, but uncertainty in some of the details is something I don’t like so much!

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Laura January 11, 2011

I would love to see a vegan cookbook that includes the nutritional information for each recipe… not the calorie count, but the other stuff. It would be so helpful for baked goods (to know how many grams of sugar) or savory dinners (to know how much protein). I struggle to get enough protein and iron so having that information would be ridiculously helpful!

That said, I’ve tried quite a few of your recipes in the last year and have loved every single one. The sweet potato-pear holiday soup is my favorite so far!

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Paula January 11, 2011

I don’t know if there is already a vegan cook book like this, but you really seem to love to take non-vegan favorites and veganize them. Transitioning to a vegan diet is hard – people just get really comfortable and like what they are used to. Drastic changes tend to make people feel deprived and the changes don’t stick. So, I’m sure newbies would really appreciate a cookbook where they can find vegan versions of what they already like!

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Amanda (Eating Up) January 11, 2011

“My fear of beginning large projects has something to do with the high expectations I place on myself. I tend to put off big projects for fear of not doing a good job; if I can put it off, maybe the right idea will just ‘hit me’ and then I can move forward.”

You and me are one in the same girl!

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Sommer J January 11, 2011

Wow, best of luck with your book! I hope you’re able to get it up and going, I can understand not know where to start with projects.

This year I plan to renew my vows. I am not girly and never thought I’d be married in the first place, so I am having a a difficult time knowing where to start. It’s a bit more difficult as we live in Germany so we have to find a venue SOON as the party is scheduled for this November! A good place I have started is reading your blog hoping to get inspired so I will have the “glow” in my vow renewal photos :) I had the glow when we were originally married because I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter :)

Sorry this is long! Looking forward to reading your progress.

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Alex @ Healing Beauty January 11, 2011

I would love to have some “30 minute meal” type recipes that are Vegan! I think quick and easy recipes are the ones I’m more receptive to.

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Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman January 11, 2011

Big projects give me hives, but I’ve found the best way to tackle them is to just do it. No more fear. No more worrying if it’s not right. Set aside a day and don’t go to bed until that project is started. Because, really, starting is the hardest part.

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